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National broadband plan worries Gardonville telephone

Contributed photo Gardonville Cooperative Telephone Association leaders recently met with State Representative Torrey Westrom (third from right).

Leaders from Gardonville Cooperative Telephone Association met with Representative Torrey Westrom and Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen on July 28 to discuss their concerns with the National Broadband Plan (NBP) being proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

According to Dave Wolf, Gardonville's CEO/general manager, the NBP will threaten Gardonville's ability to provide both broadband and affordable basic telephone service to the communities it serves.

"This plan puts the U.S. on course toward creating an urban/rural digital divide," Wold said.

The NBP calls for "100 squared" 100 meg to at least 100 million Americans by the year 2020 and sets a low threshold of 4 meg for rural/high cost areas.

"If large metro areas end up with broadband speeds 25 times faster than what we have in rural America, it will put us at a real economic disadvantage," Wolf said.

Randy Young, former president of Minnesota Telecom Alliance, told representatives at the meeting that it will be difficult for rural towns to attract businesses if they cannot assure high-quality, sustainable broadband access.

In 2010, Minnesota established broadband goals of 20 meg download and 10 meg upload to all Minnesotans by 2015. Young praised the Legislature for recognizing the need for service for the entire state, not just the urban portions.

"The FCC plan will make rural Minnesotans, and all rural Americans, second class citizens in the broadband world," Young said.

Local and statewide telecom leaders in Minnesota are bringing their messages to the communities they serve this summer in the hopes of protecting rural America.

"We are encouraging our legislators to communicate these concerns to Minnesota's congressional delegation and encourage our representatives in Washington to let the FCC know the dire impact their National Broadband Plan will have to rural Minnesota," Wolf said.